Jun 08, 2012
By Natasha Domanski
Special to The Standard
Budget cuts and political threats have been buzzing through the Nassau County Legislature this week as Nassau residents and business owners continue to wait for the knowledge of when they’re going to get the property tax rebates they’re entitled to.
The feud wages on in the County’s he-said, she-said budget battle, the ongoing fight is between Republicans not wanting to agree to nonpartisan legislative redistricting (that will allegedly benefit Nassau Democrats) and the Democrats not voting on the Republicans’ bond issue to pay off the county’s debt, which would allegedly benefit the Republicans were it to pass, by easing the County’s financial picture. For the bond issue to pass, a super-majority of county legislators have to approve it, a simple majority in
Because there has been no deal on passing the bond issue and tax refunds have to go out, social services in Nassau County are beginning to feel the effects of where budget cuts will take place in a no-bond scenario so the tax refunds can be paid to property owners.
The first social service agency to publicize its possible financial hit in the attempt to pay the tax refunds is the Long Island Crisis Center, who received a letter notifying them that their funding will be cut as of July 5th, according to County Executive Edward Mangano’s office.
So far this is just one of dozens of mental health and after school programs that are being sliced to fill in the $41 million budget deficit towards tax rebates.
Local museums that don’t generate revenue also have the potential of closing, and residents can expect fewer pothole and road repairs throughout the next couple of months.
Francis Becker (R-Lynbrook) said the legislative meeting this Monday did not bring any more answers to the table and that Mangano has his hands tied with cutting programming. “I never expected in all my years of legislation that we couldn’t work out our problems like this,” Becker said referring to the budget battle. “It’s simply devastating . The full blame is on the Democrats for not wanting to comply. They’re trying to interject redistricting politics and we just don’t bring politics into government.”
Nassau County Democratic Party Chairman Jay Jacobs, who has been accused by the Republicans of threatening his own party involving their alliances, said the county needs to hang on to their police force and public works throughout the debacle while keeping the residents’ refund as top priority.
The County Executive’s office said that Jacobs is exaggerating the money crisis in order to make Mangano look bad.
“The Republicans first resort in cuts are funds dedicated to helping the weakest, the needy,” Jacobs said. “I understand we all have to compromise, but this is not happening in a bipartisan way. We need to buckle our seatbelts because this is going to be a bumpy ride.”
In response, Becker said that he agrees with Mangano’s office and that Jacobs is only concerned about making sure he has the support from citizens by diverting them from the real issues and to sway them from supporting Mangano.
“Our backs are pushed up against the wall,” Becker said. “All that Jacobs wants is Mangano’s seat. He is a tyrant who doesn’t care, and works with a slash and burn mentality.”
Minority Leader Kevan Abrahams’ (D-Hempstead) Spokesman Mike Florio remarked that their office agrees that politics and government should not be mixed, but that the real issue is that Mangano is acting in a possibly illegal matter by attempting to go around the ruling of NIFA and that they won’t stand for furthering the run-around in the Legislature.
NIFA made an earlier statement that they will not support borrowing until Mangano finds $150 million in additional labor savings, of which he has not. The Democrats’ attorneys are looking into the matter.
Katie Grilli-Robles, Spokesperson for Mangano’s office said the County Executive has re-filed the legislation necessary to prevent the service cuts, and that the Legislature is expected to consider this legislation on June 18th.
“County Executive Mangano asked the Democrats to put politics aside, stand up for good government and prevent the draconian cuts to government services by passing the fiscal stability that was developed in conjunction with the County Legislative and NIFA to forever end borrowing against our children’s futures,” Grilli-Robles said.
“These social service agencies have become pawns,” Florio said. “I think in order for Mangano to reach that target there’s not much else to do now, but make $41 million in cuts. He could sell property and cancel contracts which would save $8 million, but we haven’t seen any of that yet.”
Florio expressed frustration over the back-and-forth verbal chaos growing over the legislation. “It seems like 1999 all over again,” he said. “Nothing’s getting done. It’s like ‘Back to the Future.’”
Becker fired back by saying that the Democrats are simply making fools of themselves. “I would rather lose my district than see them kill the cradle,” he passionately said about the social service cuts. “If the well is dry you feed the kids first.”
He added that it’s his belief that the deficit stems from Democrat Thomas Suozzi’s days in office from 2002 to 2009, placing the original blame on the Democratic party. “There’s a $310 million deficit because of them and it won’t come out of nowhere. This is Armageddon.”
As far as Jay Jacobs is concerned this point is moot. “It’s under the current management that we’re on the path towards destruction,” Jacobs said. “Mangano wants us to bond now, then throw him the keys to the store so he can bond with impunity. That’s not gonna happen.” Jacobs added that he is ready to sit down and analyze the situation in a bipartisan matter, but on true equal terms.
Other Legislators like Howard Kopel (R-Five Towns) believe that the Democrats’ stalling is so the Democrats can discuss redistricting, only. “No one knows what’s going to happen seven, eight, even nine months from now,” Kopel said. “Jacobs is causing a partial government shutdown, and we’re hard at work between a rock and a hard place.”
In a final statement from Mangano’s office they declared that the Republicans are suspicious of Jacobs’ actions and words at the most recent Committee Convention in Carle Place. “County Executive Mangano has spent the last two years cleaning up Democrat deficits, repealing taxes and cutting millions in wasteful spending added to government by Democrat legislators. County Executive Mangano has reduced the workforce by 20 percent and demanded concessions to protect the taxpayer,” the office stated. “ No politician has done more to protect our residents’ wallets. Boss Jacobs knows that Ed Mangano cannot be defeated in next year’s election cycle and is now trying to perpetuate Nassau’s fiscal crisis rather than allow his handpicked legislators to work in the best interests of the people they represent.”
About the Author: